Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST) is a vibrant spiritual community and a progressive voice within Judaism.  Founded in 1973, CBST attracts and welcomes gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, queer and straight individuals and families who share common values.  Passionate, provocative, and deeply Jewish, CBST champions a Judaism that rejoices in diversity, denounces social injustice wherever it exists, and strives for human rights for all people. Visit their website >

SPARK Team Members

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I am a member of CBST, a feminist, a proud Jew and a casting director/media trainer within the field of television, film and commercials. I am a daughter, a constant light chaser, a fiancé to a gentlewoman named Anna and a deeply devoted seeker of social justice. All of the above factors, in addition to being the niece of a member -- who died of AIDS in 2000 & credited Rabbi Kleinbaum with giving new meaning to his last seven years on earth, has brought me (and more importantly KEPT me) at CBST. I want to help lead this beyond significant spiritual home into its future in every way I can.

Risa Tanania

Team Leader

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Barbara is a member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC).  She spent most of her career in the executive search industry and was with Russell Reynolds Associates for 36 years, until her retirement in 2017. Earlier, Barbara held research librarian positions at corporate and public libraries.  She received her B.A. in History from Drew University and her M.S. from the Columbia University School of Library Service.

Barbara Dolgin

Team Leader

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Rabbi Yael Rapport is the Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the LGBTQ synagogue of New York City. Prior to that, she was a Chaplain Resident in the Mount Sinai Health System at Mount Sinai Beth Israel focusing on inpatient and outpatient oncology and the Gender Affirmation Surgical Unit. She was ordained by HUC-JIR in 2015.

Rabbi Yael Rapport


Steven Philp is a Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinical Intern at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, a vibrant spiritual community and progressive voice within Judaism. A recipient of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, he is a fourth-year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, NY. Steven earned an M.St. in Jewish Studies from the University of Oxford, Mansfield College in 2016. In 2014, Steven received his M.Div. and M.S.W. from the University of Chicago; he completed his clinical education at the YWCA as a sexual violence and support services counselor.

Steven Philp

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David Shmidt Chapman is Associate Director of the New Israel Fund in the Tri-State region, where he helps create opportunities for supporters (and future supporters!) to engage with progressive Israeli activists and leaders. Previously, David was Program Associate at the Nathan Cummings Foundation. David holds a Masters in Nonprofit Leadership from Fordham. He serves as Vice President of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the country’s largest LGBTQ synagogue, and he was recently named to the Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36 list.

David Shmidt Chapman